DARPA Names Tech Executive as New Director

Technology executive Victoria Coleman will run the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as its 22nd director, the Pentagon announced Aug. 31.

Coleman has worked on artificial intelligence, microelectronics, mobile devices, and other consumer electronics over more than 30 years in academia, government, and the private sector. She was the founding chair of DARPA’s Microsystems Exploratory Council and a member of the Defense Science Board.

Her resume spans time at household names like Yahoo!, where she served as vice president of engineering; HP, where she was vice president of software engineering in the Palm global smartphone business unit; and Intel, where she was security initiatives director, DOD said. She also worked as the chief executive officer of Atlas AI; senior vice president at Technicolor; and chief technology officer of Connected Home Business.

According to her LinkedIn, Coleman recently was senior adviser to the director of the California-based Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute. She’s been a member of the board of directors at the Bay Area’s Public Library of Science, and of Lockheed Martin’s technology advisory group.

She is the third woman to lead the military’s secretive tech development agency since its inception in 1958. DARPA is playing a key role in forward-looking aircraft designs, autonomy and AI, and new battle management concepts that are among the Air Force’s top priorities.

“During this era of great power competition, DARPA is critical to strengthening the U.S. military’s technological dominance and advancing innovations that benefit our warfighters. We are excited to welcome Dr. Coleman as the new director and look forward to building upon DARPA’s unmatched record of achievement,” Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael J.K. Kratsios said in a release.

Former DARPA Director Steven Walker resigned in January. His deputy, Peter Highnam, has temporarily held the top post since then.

Coleman will take over from Highnam in mid- to late September, a DARPA spokesman said. Highnam will return to serving as deputy director.